It’s been more than eight years to the day two former Yahoo employees, Brian Acton and Jan Koum, came up with an idea of a push notifications utility, which, as we all know, later evolved to be an instant messaging app.
Incorporated in 2009, WhatsApp is not just another chat app anymore. With one billion daily users who send 55 billion messages and 4.5 billion photos every day, not to mention the $19 billion Facebook acquisition in 2014, WhatsApp’s rapid growth as a popular and profitable phone app is now a global phenomenon.
But what makes a simple idea between two friends looking for steady jobs, so great?
Well, the shortest answer is this: WhatsApp killed off SMS Texting – people now send more messages over WhatsApp Messenger than texts. Here’s why.
You are your phone number.
WhatsApp doesn’t require any registrations, sign ups, usernames or adding contacts. You are what your phone number is, and your regular contacts in your Phone Book are your WhatsApp contacts. You can check other people’s online statuses, check whether they have read and/or received your messages, create groups, and send media files in various formats. And this works on all devices and platforms.
Free and Ad-Free
WhatsApp has been absolutely ad-free for the past eight years. Sure, it switched from free to paid service and charged an annual 99 cents subscription fees after the first year, until a few years ago. But as of now, WhatsApp is completely free – free of charge and also free of those annoying, third-party ads. Thanks to the instant messaging and audio/video call features, you can text and call your friends for free, regardless of their location, provided you have a stable internet connection
So, what is the key to the success of the fastest-growing messaging app we call WhatsApp?
In an interview to Wired UK, one of the app’s co-founders, Brian Acton explained, “We’re the most atypical Silicon Valley company you’ll come across. We were founded by thirty somethings; we focused on business sustainability and revenue rather than getting big fast; we’ve been incognito almost all the time; we’re mobile first; and we’re global first.”
Goetz, a venture capitalist at Sequioa Capital in Silicon Valley, asserts, “WhatsApp is simple, secure, and fast. It does not ask you to spend time building up a new graph of your relationships; instead, it taps the one that’s already there. Jan and Brian’s decisions are fuelled by a desire to let people communicate with no interference.”